With help from the Department of Highways, the city of Charleston will be safer for visitors and residents and more attractive for business by the end of the year.
Contractors are busy now changing out stoplights, street signs and poles and installing new pedestrian crossings at nearly 60 intersections throughout the East End and downtown.
Big deal? It is a big deal for anyone who believes the city they live in should be safe for residents and attractive for visitors. Streets that are safe for pedestrians are one of the quality of life issues that may not show up on formal surveys, but can make a difference in how the city is perceived.
Today’s urban roads were designed for handling high-speed vehicle traffic, with little or no regard for making them safe for pedestrians or encouraging people to actually walk through the city. Many streets are deadly. Kanawha Boulevard, with its eastbound through lanes, requires pedestrians to possess quick reflexes and breakneck running speed to dodge fast-moving cars as if playing a real life-or-death version of Frogger.
And it’s not just safety. It’s quality of life. Many residents and visitors like to see parts of the city on foot. Making it more accessible improves health and wellness. Making the city attractive can be the difference as to whether businesses locate in the city or seek locations elsewhere.
The Imagine Charleston Comprehensive Plan calls for slower traffic and more crosswalks, and the Kanawha City Community Association is working with the city for such a plan for MacCorkle Avenue.
Pedestrians and bicyclists were neglected in traffic planning for too long. It’s good to see positive movement to make the city safer, more enjoyable and a better place in which to invest.